The International Ice Hockey Federation has canceled the under-18 women’s world championship for the second straight year over COVID-19 concerns, drawing sharp criticism with the men’s world junior hockey championship opening this weekend.
The IIHF announced Friday that tournaments scheduled to begin in January have been canceled because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
The U18 championship was scheduled to take place Jan. 8-15 in Sweden. It’s the second straight year that the tournament has been canceled after the 2021 event was scrapped due to the pandemic.
News of the cancellation came two days before the men’s junior hockey championship was set to begin in Canada.
The IIHF “has prioritized/held top division mens events during the pandemic but the top division womens events – cancelled again. UNACCEPTABLE,” longtime U.S. hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield posted on Twitter. “Figure out how to safely play the U18 Worlds this season, just like the U18 men & #WorldJuniors. These players DESERVE to play too.”
Hockey Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser questioned the IIHF’s stated reason for canceling the women’s U18 tournament.